What’s Your Weakest Link?

May 17, 2005
Securing a building is an ongoing process

When investing in electronic security systems, building owners and facilities managers cannot rely upon advanced technology solutions alone to ensure the continuing viability of their system. The process of securing a building is ongoing - systems must be constantly administered, adjusted, reprogrammed, managed, maintained, monitored, and upgraded.

Effective electronic security systems can be compared to a chain, which is only as strong as its weakest link. This security chain includes initial system integration, maintenance, and ongoing system management. The initial system integration link is comprised of design and installation, including a customized needs assessment and threat analysis. Focusing on initial design and installation exclusively, however, does not yield a comprehensive ongoing security solution.

Preventive maintenance and service of hardware comprise another link of the security chain. Warranties are imperative, but there is no substitute for having a knowledgeable professional on call.

To be effective, proactive attention must be focused on the principal segment of the security chain: ongoing system management. Ongoing system management encompasses administration, operation, programming, changes/upgrades, and monitoring of electronic security systems. This segment is by far the most labor-intensive portion, as well as the most important part of the chain.

Ongoing system management incorporates responsibilities, such as administering cards for newly hired and recently promoted employees. It also encompasses maintaining accurate and current emergency contact information across an ever-changing employee population.

The administrative reporting function extracts customized historical reports on particular equipment. The operational aspects of ongoing system management encompass running the system to ensure performance, managing and operating redundant telephones and computers, software, and manpower; plus backing up the system. Programming responsibilities involve implementing all changes to the operating system, such as incorporating tailored response procedures, exception events, and out-of-the-ordinary protocols, as well as updating hardware and software.

Rounding out this vital (but often neglected) segment of the security chain is the need to monitor all alarm points; the status of interior and perimeter building doors; as well as conditions such as temperature, flood, smoke, and equipment failure. Ongoing system management ensures that the state-of-the-art electronic system continues to have the flexibility to change as the building needs evolve and, more importantly, provides the functionality required to accomplish the desired result.

There are many electronic security components available to fortify building security. However, the design, installation, and maintenance of these products comprise only a portion of the security chain. When building owners and facilities managers invest in top-of-the-line electronic security systems and rely solely on advanced technology without providing for ongoing system management, they create their weakest link.

Steven Rindner is executive vice president of marketing and corporate development at Kastle Systems (www.kastle.com), which is based in Arlington, VA.

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